MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks each scored 23 points and the Memphis Grizzlies rallied yet again to eliminate the Minnesota Timberwolves, winning 114-106 in Game 6 on Friday night.
Brandon Clarke added 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for the Grizzlies, who withstood another quiet night by star Ja Morant and another double-digit deficit entering the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies advanced in the playoffs for the first time in seven years, this time to meet Golden State. They’ll host Game 1 in Memphis.
Anthony Edwards had 16 of his 30 points in the first quarter for Minnesota. Jaden McDaniels had 24 points off the bench, and Karl-Anthony Towns added 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Morant went 4 for 14 from the field and had 17 points and 11 assists.
With the Grizzlies already the first team in NBA history to win multiple games in the same playoff series by erasing a double-digit-point fourth-quarter deficit, the here-we-go-again feeling was palpable in the building as an 84-74 lead for the Wolves at the third-quarter break quickly vanished.
Bane and Brooks each hit tying 3-pointers midway through the fourth, and Brooks fouled out just 26 seconds after his evened the score at 97.
Bane then swished another one from deep at 3:03 for a 101-99 lead, the first for the Grizzlies since they were up 39-38.
The kill shot came soon after for a Wolves team that, like so many others against the Grizzlies this season, was consistently a step and a jump behind on the glass.
Tyus Jones missed a pair of 3-pointers from the wing on the same possession, but the Grizzlies rebounded both — and Morant used the second one for a layup and a four-point lead.
After McDaniels, who had the game of his two-year career, hit a 3 with 1:34 left to bring the Wolves back within one, Jones — the former Timberwolves player and native of Minnesota — answered with a 3-pointer to bump the lead back to two possessions with 1:09 left.
ANT GOES MARCHING
The Grizzlies have had only one lead after the first quarter in this series, 33-32 in Game 2, and Edwards ensured they didn’t get another one. The first overall pick in the 2020 draft with the bravado and the flair for the big moments had nine of his team’s first 11 points. He hit a 3-pointer with about a minute left in the period, then blocked Morant’s layup with a few seconds left.
The crowd roared when the game operations crew flashed a graphic in the second quarter with a side-by-side comparison of scoring totals of Edwards and Morant, which was 16-0 at the time.
One of the most vital players for Minnesota in this series — all season, really — has been Patrick Beverley with his energy, experience and tenacity. One of the NBA’s most notorious pests, who was on the Grizzlies roster last summer for a few days in a stopover between trades that routed him from the Clippers to the Wolves, Beverley has contributed his share of big shots, too.
He knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Wolves a 69-56 lead with Morant guarding him, grinning at the NBA’s Most Improved Player, who flashed back a smile — and promptly produced with a three-point play on the other end by flipping in a layup and drawing a foul. That sparked a 12-0 spurt by the Grizzlies, which Beverley ended with another 3-pointer.
MUST-WINS IN MINNESOTA
This was the first Game 6 the Timberwolves hosted in their modest postseason history, though they had Game 7 at Target Center in 2004 when they beat Sacramento to close that second round series.
In the Western Conference finals that year, the Wolves also beat the Lakers here in Game 5 before losing in Los Angeles in Game 6. Those are the only two elimination games they’ve ever won at home, having lost in those situations in the first round in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Despite the devastation of the two squandered leads in defeat earlier in the series and the untrustworthy history of a franchise in a market that has not enjoyed a major professional league championship in a men’s sport since 1991, the fans turned out once again and gave the Wolves a clear advantage.
Former Timberwolves star Latrell Sprewell sat courtside, a few seats down from Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, a Minnesota native. Local head coaches P.J. Fleck (Gophers football), Ben Johnson (Gophers basketball) and Cheryl Reeve (Lynx) were in the house, too, as fans clutched neon-blue glow sticks for the duration of the night in the packed downtown arena.
Grizzlies: Bane has 27 made 3-pointers in the series. That’s already the most in team history for a single postseason. O.J. Mayo made 20 shots from behind the arc in 13 playoff games in 2011. … Backup forward Ziaire Williams (right knee soreness) was held out.
Timberwolves: Naz Reid was not with the team for personal reasons, so recent acquisition Greg Monroe got the backup center minutes, his first action of the series.